Proactive approach to school safety on the agenda for Niobrara County

Student of Month for the last quarter. L-R: Larkin Williams, Mackenzie Lyons, Jayden Matthews, Clayton Williams, Braxton Hodge, David West and Brant Stewart. Not pictured: Aubrey Manning and Landon Parker.

The Niobrara County School District convened their regular meeting on Monday, May 13 at 7 p.m. Agenda was approved with changes to remove the superintendent report. Mr. Mirich had a family emergency and is unavailable. That report will be submitted via email to all board members.

The Board honored the student of the month for the last quarter at both NCHS and LEMS:

NCHS

March: Jayden Matthews

April: Clayton Williams

May: Mackenzie Lyons

LEMS

March: Brant Stewart

Landon Parker

April: Braxton Hodge

David West

May: Aubrey Manning

Larkin Williams

Staff member of the quarter at LEMS was Jim Lyons and at NCHS was Mary Larson. Both staff members are examples of positive team players who always put the well being of their students and the district first.

Lusk Police Chief Bo Krein presented a proposal for a School Resource Officer position to the district. Krein distributed information to the Board regarding both the position and program as well as the candidate that would be offered the position should it be funded. The Town of Lusk has agreed to partially fund this position by designating $35,000 in their FY 2019-2020 budget. Krein expressed concern regarding multiple events that have occurred at or involved the schools over the last 90 days. His department is focused on doing their utmost as a department to correct problems and be there to make sure that situations are addressed in the schools before they get out of hand. He used the analogy of bullet-proof vests to drive home the point that while no one wants a worst case scenario, it is his job to be prepared for it. Officers wear bullet proof vests even though we haven’t had a policeman shot in Lusk in a long time; the same attitude to apply to safety and security within our schools. The candidate presented is highly recommended and highly trained. Klein read a letter that the candidate wrote about the role of an SRO and his perspective on building relationships with students so they see officers as someone to trust. Perception is that police are out to get everyone in trouble, but they aren’t. The candidate uses various methods prior to actually arresting and filing charges against a student to motivate students to improve grades and behaviors. Constant communication between educators, administrators and the SRO is a must to improve outcomes within our district. The need for an SRO is growing. The key phrase isn’t “if” but “when”. The world is changing and the way we work in schools needs to change as well. As Krein pointed out, the United States has seen more active shooters than fires in schools in the last 5 years and yet our district trains for fires monthly but doesn’t have other crisis drills. School safety is one of the biggest oversights. This candidate was the SRO at Wyoming Indian for 4.5 years and now works for DCI.

Krein explained that he wants this program to be sustainable. For it to be successful it must be implemented at the right time with the right person. Krein doesn’t want to go at this half-heartedly and have it fail or give people a bad taste in their mouth. Chair Richardson addressed “necessity” of this. Krein discussed the frequency of police responses to the school. 30-45% of their time is being spent on school issues. This spreads the force very thin when trying to work with other town law enforcement roles. The position would be fully SRO. Will depend on the case load for how his time will be split between the buildings. Most of the school districts SROs are spread out over many different schools.

Board members inquired about the day-to-day aspect of this type of position and what that would loo like. When not investigating incidents or assisting with disciplinary SROS implement and educate for prevention programs, security programs, and providing ongoing training for students and staff. Mr. Garhart has worked with the potential candidate and is an advocate for him and his position. SRO position number one is the presence piece. PR/getting to know students. Anything from drug issues (internal investigations), helping to formulate crisis response and action plans and even conducting Alice trainings. At this time, Chief Krein is asking for $70,000 from the board for this position by June 4 with the Town of Lusk contributing the $35,000. The position will fall under the Town for employment/benefits and then be contracted to the schools. Next budget meeting can be on the May 28th meeting and can vote on this. Stewart Larson feels that he could potentially make this work with the rough budget proposal. Larson stated that he felt the district, “Can’t afford not to.” Board members expressed some reservations given that the annual salary is 1.5 educational positions. The point was made that educators and administrators are dealing with issues that an SRO could address and that is already pulling away from educational time. LEMS Principal Lu Kaspers spoke to the SRO need. Lu has spent more time in one year dealing with SRO issues than she did in the previous fourteen in her tenure as a school administrator. Part of this position’s job would be to seek out additional funding for safety grants and funding. Other law enforcement officers want this candidate here. Police department has already applied for a homeland security grant for school cameras and is working with the County to find additional grants. As Krein stated, “ As Chief of Police it is my job to at least present this program to the schools. I would be remiss if something happened in the future that could have been prevented or a better outcome with the existence of an SRO and I hadn’t even brought the proposal before the board.” This item will be on the agenda at the May 28 meeting as an action item.

Social Emotional Learning Team

Anna Skeen, LEMS Counselor and Heather Heth, NCSD Psychologist presented a power point handout educating about the process of the Social Emotional Learning Team and their recommendation on a program for LEMS. SEL promotes activities that develop children’s abilities to recognize and manage their emotions. Heather Heth, Anna Skeen, Barb Cushman, Tracianne Zerbe, Laura Lyons and Karla VandeBossche were the committee that evaluated and researched programs to prepare the proposal to evaluate and find a program for LEMS. Evidence of effectiveness of various programs on the CASEL website. Second Step is the final selection. For Pre-K to 8 it is a program that introduces topics daily. Explicit skill instruction is easily integrated into academic instruction. Has both classroom/school and family component. Followed students from 1-2 years for outcomes. Second Step teaches a variety of units. Initial training for staff is 1-4 hours and is included with program costs. Educators on the committee were open to this program as a selection option. Engaging for students as well. This program offers more effectiveness as it is uniform from year to year with students progressing as they advance developmentally. There are extensive materials for the implementation and progression of program with the suit of materials to make it a comprehensive program. Second Steps provides Tools for students, educators, administrators and parents. This purchase would be under Mrs. Kasper’s budget. The K-5 program is a one-time purchase and the middle school program is an annual purchase with an internet/digital component. It was mentioned that the SRO would be able to help co-teach some of these units. Board members expressed concern for the additional time burden this could place on the school day. An SEL will be part of Prime-Time at the middle school and at the elementary this will be part of the class meetings. The district must have an SEL for the school improvement plan. Ms. Skeen stated that she believes, and evidence proves this, that an effective SEL also decreases teacher burnout. Doesn’t need to be an action item, it will be Kasper’s budget. Mrs. Kaspers recommends the $2529 package at elementary and the 1 year package at the middle school.

Information Items:

WYVA: William Johnston provided updates on WYTOPP. WYVA worked very hard to make the participation requirements with 25 proctors, 13 testing locations, 20 consecutive days from April 15-May 10. 1062 complete tests administered. Per the state performance data will be provided by August 1. Graduation is May 18th at 2pm. 20-25 walking grads (40-46 total). May 28-30 is the all-school PD in Sheridan. Last day of school is 5/24. 5/30 is last day for teachers. Johnstone provided an update on hiring for head of schools. The candidates have now completed a video interview and panel interview. The committee has narrowed it down to three candidates. The candidates will travel to Virginia to meet with department executives from K-12. After that they will meet with Mr. Mirich and whoever he selects for local committee. Goal is to make an offer prior to the end of school PD. Very short timeline. Johnston will be at the first board meeting in June to give student performance for end of year data and completion of grades K-5. WYVA did hit required participation for ACT at 95/96% participation. Utah and Colorado advertise opt-out options for ACT. Summer school is offered for credit recovery and 18 kids will be participating in extended school year via WYVA.

High School: Phil Garhart- State Track coming up this weekend. Graduation Sunday, May 19th at 2pm Board members need to be there by 1:30. Senior’s last day is Wednesday, May 15. Mary and Peggy are working on Infinite Campus because we must have a weighted transcript for Hathaway. Finished WYTOPP, preliminary information is available to check. Numbers are not quite where Phil would like to see those but can’t really analyze this results until the final numbers are out. 100% ACT. 100% WYTOPP. Staff are doing diary maps to see what they actually taught for units planned. Will be doing assessment going into that curriculum and assessment exercise. Wednesday May 15 at 2:35 is senior awards ceremony. Student sophomore auction is at 6pm on Wednesday in Mrs. Titchener’s room.

 LEMS: Lu Kaspers-100% WYTOPPS test participation. Not where we want to be but did have growth. 8th grade promotion Wednesday, May 22. If the board can be there to hand out certificates that would be great. Behaviors increase a lot has kids that don’t have a safe space at home begin to act out from anxiety about the approaching summer. Lance Creek School was able to visit the Denver Zoo and Aquarium.

Special Education: Robyn Heth- Tina Carstenson’s retirement party is May 28 3-5pm in the Board Room.

Business Manager: Auditors are here 20th-24th. This will be a very in-depth, detailed audit on every department. General Fund is down $127,000 from last month. Getting under 15% requirement. Hoping to move funds into carry-over. YTD revenue up $152,000 and expenditures are up to $111,000. Went down $38,000. Local tax revenue is higher in May and June because of property taxes. In May receive 1/2 foundation payment. Food service all April revenues were up. Daycare is still projecting as should. No changes in the budget tracking. Not going over any budgets right now.

Consent Agenda: Approved as presented.

Action Items

High School Student Custodian: Tyler Basile Student summer custodial position. Approved.

WYVA Calendar: 2019-2020 Approved. Is coming more in-line with brick and mortar schedule.

SEL Program Purchase: Approved the Second Step program for the 2019-2020 school year for K-8. Motion carried.

Old Business:

Lance Creek Replacement-Paperwork is progressing for this project. Items are being turned into AVI and get the modular ordered and have it placed in time for next year. Existing modular will be removed and sold-this is contractor issue not the school. Custodial staff will help with the physical move.

Went into executive session at 9:10pm for student issues and then adjourned.

 

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